By DOUG EADS
Before his club’s last game of the 2019-’20 basketball season on Monday night at Crown College, Campbellsville-Somerset head coach Al Gover jokingly referred to year number two of the Tigers basketball program as ‘The Adventure Express’.
And for good reason.
Year number two for Gover and the Tigers was definitely an adventure to say the very least.
On Monday night — playing in their final game of the season at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee — Gover and the Tigers kept one streak in tact at least.
Monday’s tilt was game number 28 on the season for the CU-Somerset Tigers, and for the 28th consecutive game, Gover did not have his full roster in uniform and on the bench for the contest.
Yes, it’s been that kind of season for coach Gover and the Tigers — one with injury, after injury, after injury.
Yet, CU-Somerset hung tough and ended the season on a positive note.
CU-Somerset’s freshman forward Deion Finnison scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half, helping the Tigers wither a furious second half comeback by the Royal Crusaders, en route to a 100-73 win by Gover and company — a company on Monday night that dressed seven healthy bodies for the game.
The win ended the Tigers season at 8-20 on the year, but it was at least a positive way to end a very trying and draining season.
“This season was a grind, and we did nickname it ‘The Adventure Express’, because we never knew from game to game who was going to be playing, and who was going to be out,” stated a very relieved and happy coach Gover immediately following the contest.
“We played 28 games this season, and we were never at 100 percent for any game this year, because we always had one or two or three or more players out of the lineup for various reasons,” added the Tigers head coach. “And at this level, that makes it very tough when you’re a young program and you’re trying to build something from the ground up.”
It was Crown College that made a statement early, racing out to a 14-4 lead over CU-Somerset, but once the Tigers got things going after Gover called a timeout, they really got going.
Sophomore guard Antwan Hurt scored 17 of his 21 points in the opening half of play, helping the Tigers get off the mat from that early 10-point deficit to grab a 47-36 lead over the Royal Crusaders by halftime.
In the second frame, Crown College then took one last run at Somerset.
Guard Tanner Koske drained a pair of three’s, along with teammate Seth Sullivan, helping the Royal Crusaders cut the CU-Somerset lead down to a single digit at 54-53 with just over five minutes gone by in the second half.
No worries — Somerset would respond.
The Tigers sealed the game at that juncture, going on a 13-0 run to take a 67-53 lead at the midway point of the second half, and Gover’s club would not really be threatened again, eventually building the lead up to the final margin of 27 points, at 100-73.
“This was a nice win to close out the season for our team, and we only had seven guys that were able to dress for it, but they played hard and they gave a very good effort,” pointed out Gover.
“Now, we’ve got to get out there on the recruiting trail and try to bring some new kids into the program to mix in with the guys that we will have returning for year number three next season,” added the Tigers coach. “We’ve laid a solid groundwork over the past two years, and we expect some big things next year, and I’m chomping at the bit to get started.”
With the win, the Tigers finished the season with an 8-20 record, following up last season’s 8-19 mark in the first year of the program.
Finnison led CU-Somerset in Monday’s win with 23 points, Hurt tallied 21 points, Meith Reclow added 20 points, while Nick Longmire chipped in with 13 points, and Kenyan McKee added 10 points.